I put laugh in quotes because the thing I'm referring to is less a laugh and more a short burst of sound, for lack of a term I hope answerers can come up with. I'm looking for a word meaning a single wry or mocking “chuckle” that you might hear with the interjection ha or bah. It'll be used in a sentence like this:

" 'You, help me?' he [verbal form of desired word].”

The word must convey a sense of disbelief or contempt; for lack of a better term, you could call it bahing , which would denote the act of making a short sound with the tone of exclaiming “bah!”

If the word doesn't match the definition either very, very closely or exactly, please don't list it as an answer.

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    Please do not use the site as a thesaurus. I have defended and upvoted your questions more than once but by now you really should follow the minimal guidelines. Where is the research/effort? Where is the sample sentence? – Mari-Lou A Oct 10 '18 at 8:45
  • @Mari-LouA The sample sentence was provided at the end of my question. Please refer to it. – user305707 Oct 10 '18 at 8:47
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    From Online Oxford: chuckle, chortle, giggle, titter, snigger, snicker, cackle, mock, deride, scoff at, sneer, smirk, ... – Mari-Lou A Oct 10 '18 at 8:49
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I thought about "scoff" too, but...well, see here. – user305707 Oct 10 '18 at 8:49
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    Now I’m a bit confused. In your recent edits, you’ve added that one might call it bah’ing colloquially, but bah does not in any way indicate a laugh and so is very obviously not an answer to your question. It indicates disdain and contempt, but no laugh. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 10 '18 at 9:43

The word is "snort". It is sometimes considered a form of laughter showing incredulity and contempt.

'You, help me?' he snorted.




Snicker might work in your example

to laugh in a covert or partly suppressed manner

Definition from Merriam-Webster

  • Snicker is US only. – Michael Harvey Oct 10 '18 at 9:14
  • I've heard it used in the UK as well, although snigger may be more common. – A Gibb Oct 10 '18 at 9:18
  • Answerer: I downvoted because this word, in no way, fits the definition I provided in my question. – user305707 Oct 10 '18 at 9:28
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    A snicker is a polysyllabic snort. Both are phonosemantically coherent with the SN- assonance. – John Lawler Oct 10 '18 at 11:33
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    @JohnLawler thank you for providing the link, very interesting – A Gibb Oct 10 '18 at 12:42

The noise you describe is a bark of derision.

Google ngrams shows that it's a phrase in reasonably common usage, but looking up the meaning as one idiom is proving difficult.

There's "bark" as a noun from Collins:

  1. the loud abrupt usually harsh or gruff cry of a dog or any of certain other animals
  2. a similar sound, such as one made by a person, gun, etc

and as a verb:

to say or shout in a brusque, peremptory, or angry tone

Which covers the abrupt sound you describe.

And "derision" from Collins

The act of ridiculing or laughing at someone or something.

Although this phrase closely matches your definition of the single, short vocalisation, it is difficult to use it with your example as it is. Your example implies a word that is equivalent to "said" where the character is saying the words. You could use "barked derisively", but instead I'd phrase it:

"You? Help me?". He gave a bark of derision.

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    I think I would propitiate someone who barked with derision by offering them a bone. – Michael Harvey Oct 10 '18 at 9:43
  • This is the closest so far, but is there perhaps a more concise term? – user305707 Oct 10 '18 at 9:54